Valtteri Bottas took a dominant pole position at Catalunya, achieving a third consecutive pole for the first time in his career. We take a look at all the stats and stories from Saturday at the Spanish Grand Prix!
Q U A L I F Y I N G R E C A P
- Bottas takes pole with a huge six tenth margin to team-mate
- Ferrari fast in first sector, but slower than Red Bull in sectors two and three
- Hulkenberg eliminated in Q1 after damaging front wing, Ricciardo reaches Q3
- Haas ‘best of the rest’, both McLarens out in Q2
The Ultimate Pace
Valtteri Bottas appeared unstoppable in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, as he took pole position by over six tenths of a second – the largest pole margin seen at the track since fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen beat team-mate David Coulthard to pole in 1998. The sector times show, however, that Ferrari were in fact faster than Mercedes in the first sector, with Sebastian Vettel setting a 21.284 compared to Bottas’ 21.488 in the opening part of the track. The latter sectors didn’t suit the Ferrari, however, with Mercedes being comfortably quicker – especially in the final sector. Red Bull’s pace was faster than Ferrari’s in both of the last two sectors, which certainly helped Max Verstappen to split the two Ferrari drivers on the grid.
By adding each drivers’ best three sector times together, we can get an idea of who put a lap together when it mattered, and who failed to pull all three sectors into one fast lap. This weekend, only Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon and George Russell achieved their full potential on their final qualifying lap. The largest difference between best actual lap and best potential lap was for Lewis Hamilton, whose fastest lap was a quarter of a second off his best three sector times added together. Even on their ultimate pace, however, Bottas was still 0.382 seconds up on Hamilton. For the first time this season, the grid would remain the same as it is if it was determined by the drivers’ best three sector times added together! The lap times are compared in the table below:
|Driver||Qualifying Time||Ultimate Pace||Difference||Quali Pos.||Ultimate Pace Pos.|
The team-mate battles
The largest gap between team-mates in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix was at Williams, where George Russell out-paced Robert Kubica by 1.182 seconds. It’s a worrying stat for Kubica, who swapped chassis with Russell ahead of the race weekend.
There were closer battles elsewhere in qualifying. At Ferrari, Sebastian Vettel eventually finished 0.316 seconds ahead of Charles Leclerc in Q3. In the previous two sessions though, the pair had been separated by less than half a hundredth of a second. Leclerc was 0.037 seconds faster in Q1, while Vettel was faster by 0.047 seconds in Q2. Things were even closer at Haas, where Romain Grosjean won the Q3 battle by just 0.011 seconds.
Small differences between team-mates can make a big difference to a driver’s qualifying attempt. This was most noticeable at Renault. In Q1, Daniel Ricciardo was faster than Nico Hulkenberg by just 0.019 seconds. While Ricciardo eventually progressed into the top ten, Hulkenberg was eliminated in Q1.
Largest gaps in each session:
Q1: Russell 1.182s faster than Kubica
Q2: Norris 0.261s faster than Sainz
Q3: Bottas 0.634s faster than Hamilton
Gap between team-mates in last session where each driver set a time:
Looking at each driver’s ultimate pace also offers an interesting glimpse into who was fastest in each sector in each team. The results can be found in the table below. The smallest gap between a pair of team-mates’ best sector times today was 0.006 seconds, which separated Alex Albon and Daniil Kvyat in the first sector, while the largest gap was 0.586 seconds, which was how much faster Kimi Raikkonen was than Antonio Giovinazzi in the final sector.
Find all the team-mate battle statistics for the 2019 season here!
As mentioned above, Ferrari were fastest in the first sector, while Mercedes were fastest in sectors two and three, and Red Bull were faster than Ferrari in the latter two sectors. Red Bull’s pace was down in the first sector, with McLaren being the third fastest team in that section of track. Haas were the fourth fastest team in every sector, and Williams were slowest in all three parts of the track.
|Team||GAP TO POLE||GAP TO ULTIMATE PACE|
About the above table: the ‘gap to ultimate pace’ column shows the gap between the team’s best three sector times added together and the overall best three sector times added together. The ‘gap to pole time’ column shows the gap between the team’s best three sector times added together and the lap time of the polesitter.
Improvements between 2018 and 2019
Every team’s pace was faster in 2019 than it was in qualifying for the 2018 race. Toro Rosso were the most improved team, lapping over a second faster than they did last year, while Ferrari saw the least improvement since 2018. You can see the full data below:
|Team||Difference||2018 Rank||2019 Rank|
All set for Sunday:
Will Valtteri Bottas stamp his authority on the 2019 title race with a third win of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix, or can Lewis Hamilton get ahead of the Finn in the race? Can Ferrari do anything to secure their first win of the season – or will they have to look out for the threat from Red Bull? Elsewhere, Haas will be hoping to hold on to their starting positions, while Lando Norris will be looking to move up with his free tyre choice from tenth on the grid.
In the Lucky and Unlucky Grid Positions:
LUCKY: Pole: Valtteri Bottas 3rd: Sebastian Vettel 5th: Charles Leclerc 9th: Daniil Kvyat 19th: Robert Kubica
Pole: Valtteri Bottas
3rd: Sebastian Vettel
5th: Charles Leclerc
9th: Daniil Kvyat
19th: Robert Kubica
UNLUCKY: 4th: Max Verstappen 6th: Pierre Gasly 8th: Kevin Magnussen 10th: Lando Norris 16th: Nico Hulkenberg 20th: George Russell
4th: Max Verstappen
6th: Pierre Gasly
8th: Kevin Magnussen
10th: Lando Norris
16th: Nico Hulkenberg
20th: George Russell
Find out what makes each grid position lucky or unlucky here!
Nicky Haldenby is a freelance writer from Scarborough, England. After graduating from the University of Hull in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. Now in its fourth season, the blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics. Nicky also writes at F1Destinations, and sister site GPDestinations, where he shares regular race previews and articles focussed around the latest in Formula 1 calendar and venue news. In 2017 and 2018, he wrote for Badger GP. Nicky can also be heard regularly as a guest on various Formula 1 radio shows and podcasts.